Vinyl records have seen a surprising resurgence in recent years, with music lovers rediscovering the warm, rich sound that LPs can provide. For those looking to get in on the vinyl trend, an affordable yet high-quality turntable is essential. The U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus aims to fit the bill, offering audiophile-grade features at a reasonable price point.
U-Turn Audio is an Massachusetts-based company who achieved success with their Kickstarter campaign for the original Orbit turntable. The Gen 2 Orbit Plus sits in the middle of their product line, above the basic Orbit model but below the Orbit Special and Orbit Theory. On paper, it has upgraded components like an optional built-in phono preamp and Ortofon OM5E cartridge while maintaining U-Turn’s commitment to value.
In this review, I’ll take an in-depth look at the Orbit Plus to see how it stacks up for vinyl enthusiasts on a budget. I’ve tested everything from ease of setup to sound quality to build construction in order to give an accurate impression of how this mid-priced turntable performs.
- The Orbit Plus offers a blend of simplicity and high-quality sound.
- 2023 Gen 2 update features a revamped drive system and new plinth options
- It is a barebones manual turntable with no automatic features.
- Some competing turntables offer equal sound quality and more features for the same price (or less), but the Orbit Plus has a more distinct identity
Design and Build Quality
U-Turn Audio has opted for a clean, minimalist look with the Orbit Plus, but it’s wide color availability (which include red, green, and blue) give it personality. The rounded edges and smooth matte coating give it a sleek, contemporary style that should blend into most listening room decors.
The plinth is constructed from medium density fiberboard (MDF) rather than cheaper materials like plastic or hollow wood. MDF provides increased acoustic insulation and a lower resonance profile which reduces distortion and vibration. At 12.5 pounds, the turntable has a reassuring stability and planted feel when installed properly.
The new Magnesium Orbit Arm 3 tonearm itself is an updated version of the standard Orbit arm, promising even lower bearing tolerances and improved response. It still offers allowances for adjustable counterweight and anti-skate settings to properly calibrate the cartridge. Overall the quality of materials and adjustability options reflect a well-considered design focused on audio performance.
Motor and Platter
Motor: Central to the Orbit’s design is its low-noise DC motor, which provides stable rotation for consistent playback. The precision of the motor translates into less wow and flutter, ensuring a more accurate reproduction of vinyl records.
Platter: The Orbit Plus features an acrylic platter, preferred for its increased mass and lower resonance compared to traditional materials. The acrylic not only improves sound clarity by providing a more consistent rotation speed but also contributes to the turntable’s modern aesthetic.
Tonearm and Cartridge
Tonearm: The turntable’s tonearm showcases a solid build, made with precision bearings and designed for reduced tracking error. Its adjustable counterweight allows for precise stylus pressure, optimizing performance with a variety of cartridges.
Cartridge: Equipped with a pre-mounted Ortofon OM5E cartridge, the Orbit Plus delivers clear and detailed sound. This cartridge is a popular choice for its excellent tracking ability and nuanced audio reproduction.
Design and Build: The Orbit Plus’s minimalist design is complemented by a wood plinth available in various finishes, which not only provides a visual anchor for the design but also a stable and vibration-resistant base. The turntable’s design is the embodiment of a modern, sleek, and clean look that appeals to both audiophiles and design enthusiasts alike.
Dimensions and Weight: Compact in size, the Orbit Plus is designed to fit comfortably in various spaces without compromising performance. The turntable’s weight and dimensions are carefully balanced to contribute to both stability and a minimalist profile, achieving a blend of form and function.
The Orbit Plus is appreciated for its straightforward yet elegant design, which is reflected in every aspect, from the choice of materials like the acrylic platter to the weight and build quality grounded in a sturdy wood plinth.
Setup and User Experience
When we discuss the U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus, it’s crucial to hone in on the specific aspects of setup and how that translates into the user experience. We’ve taken a look at the ease of going from box to play, as well as the guidance provided by the user manual.
Ease of Assembly
The U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus boasts a relatively straightforward setup process. Inside the box, you’ll find the components neatly packaged and ready for assembly. Most notably, the turntable comes with an adjustable counterweight and cue lever, enhancing ease of use. The manual turntable design requires users to manually move the tonearm, but this is made more user-friendly with the inclusion of the cue lever, which allows for precise needle placement.
To get started, we attach the platter and balancing the tonearm—the latter of which can intimidate novices but proves to be a smooth task with help from clear instructions. The anti-skate feature is preset, saving us time and reducing the need for immediate adjustments. Ultimately, these steps lay the groundwork for an uncomplicated user experience.
User Manual and Convenience
The user manual supplied with the Orbit Plus is concise yet informative, offering detailed instructions and helpful diagrams. For those who prefer instruction via video, U-Turn Audio has you covered.
With a design focused on convenience, few adjustments are needed once the Orbit Plus is assembled. Unlike more complex setups, there’s a refreshing minimalism in its use. This simplicity does not imply a lack of sophistication; rather, it’s a testament to U-Turn’s commitment to providing a lean design that doesn’t compromise on quality.
The Orbit Plus holds its own when it comes to audio quality, but it doesn’t necessarily sound any better than other turntable models in its budget, including models like the Audio Technica AT-LP120X and the Fluance RT82. Both these models have more features than the barebones Orbit Plus, but minimalists might not see a problem with that.
Sound Quality and Clarity
With its included Ortofon OM5e cartridge, the sound profile is well-balanced, giving a nod to both expressive highs and substantial lows. This setup ensures that the bass is present without overpowering mids and highs, making for a comprehensive vinyl listening experience.
Speed Stability and Vibration Control
The Orbit Plus is adept at maintaining consistent platter speeds, crucial for pitch-accurate playback of music on vinyl. Additionally, the turntable’s vibration resistance component contributes to a quieter operation, limiting unwanted noise and thus enhancing the overall audio fidelity.
Value and Competitiveness
Priced at $399, the Orbit Plus targets vinyl enthusiasts searching for premium hardware without breaking the bank.
Many competitors like the Fluance RT82 and Audio-Technica LP120XUSB beat the Orbit Plus in terms of features, but there’s no doubt that the minimalist aesthetic of the Orbit Plus has a more premium feel. It also has a more special feeling to it, coming from a small company as opposed to being a turntable you can pick off the shelf at large retailers.
Those willing to stretch the budget closer may find the excellent Project Debut Carbon EVO an interesting alternative. It shares a minimalist look, while offering features like an Electronic speed switch and carbon fiber tonearm.
Overall, the Orbit Plus doesn’t offer the best bang for buck in its class, but listeners who like a beautiful, hands-on turntable should definitely consider it.
Longevity and Maintenance
Our U-Turn Audio Orbit Plus is designed for longevity with minimal maintenance requirements. The turntable’s sturdy construction speaks to its durability, and maintenance is relatively straightforward, ensuring the Orbit Plus has a prolonged lifespan with proper care. The included Ortofon OM5E cartridge is recognized for its excellent tracking ability, which reduces record wear and preserves your collection over time.
With the Orbit Plus turntable, U-Turn Audio has struck an enticing balance between performance and value. For a reasonable asking price, you get a capable performer equipped with higher-end components that can grow with your system over time.
The Ortofon OM5E cartridge provides a noticeable leap in detail and resolution over more affordable starter turntables.
While you don’t get features like a USB connection or auto return, those who don’t mind a hands-on experience won’t mind. Its balance of sound, features, and value help to continue U-Turn’s mission of making quality analog playback accessibly.